The Department of Film and Media Studies is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in all that we do. We believe that acknowledging and embracing a broad range of life experiences and perspectives strengthens our department culture, our teaching, our research and our learning. We have prepared this FAQ to assist faculty and staff in creating and maintaining inclusive and equitable classrooms and department spaces. Please reach out to Kelly Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have suggestions for resources to add, or comments. We hope this list will stay alive and dynamic!
What is inclusive teaching and why is it important?
Inclusive teaching involves deliberately cultivating a learning environment where all students are treated equitably, have equal access to learning, and feel valued and supported in their learning. Such teaching attends to social identities and seeks to change the ways systemic inequities shape dynamics in teaching-learning spaces, affect individuals’ experiences of those spaces, and influence course and curriculum design (Univ. of Michigan CRLT). Inclusive teaching is intentional, ongoing and evolves over time.
By implementing inclusive teaching practices, faculty create learning environments where all students feel they belong and have the opportunity to achieve at high levels. Research shows that a sense of belonging increases student learning, while feeling marginalized or unacknowledged decreases it.
For more detail about what inclusive teaching is and why it’s important, visit this page at the University of Michigan Center for Research on Learning and Teaching.
Are there best practices for creating an inclusive classroom?
Yes! The Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) recommends that faculty take the following steps to ensure an inclusive classroom:
- Ensure your course reflects a diverse society and world.
- Ensure course media are accessible.
- Ensure your syllabus sets the tone for diversity and inclusion.
- Use inclusive language.
- Share your gender pronouns.
- Learn and use students’ preferred names.
- Engage students in a small-group introductions activity.
- Use an interest survey to connect with students.
- Offer inclusive office hours.
- Set expectations for valuing diverse viewpoints.
ACUE’s Inclusive Practices Teaching Toolkit is a great place to find resources that can help you create and maintain an inclusive classroom.
University of Denver also has a resource-rich website on inclusive teaching.
Where can I learn more about different forms of racism and read about ways of being an intentionally anti-racist person and educator?
The National Museum of African American Heritage and Culture (NMAAHC) has a website written by Imbram X Kendi that breaks down these topics nicely.
Wheaton College in Massachusetts has a good website dedicated to anti-racist teaching.
How can I ensure my course syllabus reflects a diverse society and world?
According to Jose Antonio Bowen, former president of Goucher College, inclusive teaching means that “everyone in your class can see themselves, at the end, in this subject” and be able to imagine people like them engaged in the discipline. A short video of Prof. Bowen, and other faculty explaining how they think about inclusion in their course design, is here.
For a closer-to-home perspective, see this excellent presentation from Hunter College Film and Media Professor Isabel Pinedo on how she redesigned the way she teaches the history of television:
Access Passcode: @8&mP45*
How can I spark more participation by students in my class, especially around race, identity and social equity?
In this seminar by Hunter’s Academic Center for Excellence in Research and Teaching (ACERT), Hunter Education Prof. Melissa Schieble and CUNY PhD candidate in Urban Education Kahdeidra Martin explain how you can use “critical talk moves” to give students “onramps” to your course and foster dialogue about power, identity and social equity in your classroom. Their Critical Talk Moves sheet can be downloaded here, and their critical listening exercise can be downloaded here.
See also these helpful tips from The Chronicle of Higher Education for increasing participation in class discussions more generally.
How can I prepare for discussions of potentially divisive or “high stakes” issues in the classroom?
The University of Michigan has a set of guidelines for discussing difficult or high-stakes topics. It includes planning for these conversations, and dealing with conflicts that emerge unexpectedly.
What are community guidelines and how can I create and use them in class or in meetings? Are there samples?
Yes! Community guidelines are a great way to build community, encourage respect, and ensure that all voices are heard. The University of Wisconsin has a site about creating and using Community Guidelines.
Film and Media Professor Kelly Anderson developed this set of community guidelines with a class of graduate students in our IMA program. You can feel free to share and adapt.
What are land acknowledgments and how can I do one in my class or meeting?
In Australia, New Zealand, Canada and increasingly in the United States, school classes, events and meetings often begin with a land acknowledgment. This is a way to recognize the people on whose land we live, and to begin to take responsibility for our country’s ongoing injustices against Native peoples. For more information about land acknowledgments and how to do them, see this resource from the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility.
Here is a link to a land acknowledgment statement Prof. Michael Gitlin created with graduate students in his “Microcultural Incidents” class.
I’m not sure how to handle the issue of pronouns and gender identity in the classroom. Why should I and how do I do it?
Yes, Hunter College has a policy that students must be addressed using their preferred pronouns. Here is a website that explains why using students’ preferred pronouns matters, and some best practices for finding out and using correct pronouns.
Is there any suggested language I can put in my syllabus to set a tone conducive to equity and inclusion?
Yes! Adding language to your syllabus can help set an inclusive tone and signal to students that you value the diversity they bring to the classroom. In addition to the mandatry syllabus language related to Sexual Harassment and the Office of Accessibility (see faculty handbook for that language, or the email we send out at the beginning of each semester), you can craft your own statement using these resources and examples from Brown University.
Where can I find examples of films, writing and art by women, people of color and LGBTQ+ scholars and artists?
These are a few examples of sites where you can find resources for making your course inclusive and representative:
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Resources for Teaching About Digital Culture (American University)
How can I make sure Neurodiverse students feel welcomed and can succeed in my classroom?
Hunter College ACERT and Center for Online Learning have assembled resources for facilitating difficult conversations in the classroom (Resources for Course Design page)
Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching; Teaching in Times of Crisis | Center for Teaching | Vanderbilt University
Harvard University Derek Bok Center for Teaching article on Difficult Moments in the College classroom; https://bokcenter.harvard.edu/navigating-difficult-moments
University of Michigan Center for Teaching and Learning resources for responding to Difficult Moments; https://crlt.umich.edu/multicultural-teaching/difficult-moments
Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching on Teaching Race;
Columbia Univ Center for Teaching and Learning on hot moments in the classroom;